One million book give-away hits Hastings

Victoria Seymour with recipient Lynda Holdstock at The Stables
Victoria Seymour with recipient Lynda Holdstock at The Stables

BOOKWORMS were in for a treat when literature-lovers hit the streets giving out free novels.

To mark World Book Night on Saturday, March 4, 20,000 people across the UK were chosen to give away 48 copies of their favourite book from a list of 25 titles. Organisers then distributed extra copies at prisons and hospitals to make a grand total of one million books given away in just 24 hours.

Katrina and Fran Blench in Hastings

Katrina and Fran Blench in Hastings

Katrina Blench was one of the lucky ambassadors and she gave away copies of Beloved by Toni Morrison in Robertson Street. With the help of her daughters Fran and Coco they distributed their pile in just half an hour, and Mrs Blench said: “Some people were a bit dubious and some gave us a wide berth because they thought we were religious, but once people understood what we were doing there was a lot of support.

“I asked to give away Beloved because it is about a completely different culture, it’s a novel about black American slavery. It is quite harrowing but at the end there is some hope so it is quite uplifting, and she is a very good writer.”

Mrs Blench, a librarian from Robertsbridge, was also thrilled that the event confirmed the public appetite for reading at a time when libraries are facing cutbacks.

Meanwhile local author Victoria Seymour was not to be put off after her application to take part in the event was unsuccessful. Undeterred, she hit the town on Saturday night giving away copies of her book “Austerity Diary from Lavender Cottage ~ Hastings 1947.” She surprised visitors to the The Stables Theatre, a corner shop and a bookmaker’s with the books.

She said: “I decided to go it alone - it was a pleasant experience to give people a surprise gift. “